**UPDATE** Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AFAC will be pausing the Backpack Buddies program. We will use this time to reevaluate the program and to find a solution to fill this need through our regular food distribution program.
AFAC's Backpack Buddies program provides weekend and holiday meal packs for food-insecure Arlington County schoolchildren. "Food Insecurity" is the term used to describe the uncertainty of not knowing where the next meal will come from, or if it will come at all.
A study commissioned by AFAC and conducted by Virginia Tech's Center for Social Research estimates that as many as 9,400 children in Arlington are food insecure. For many of these children, their lunchtime meal at school is their only meal each day. Over weekends and holiday breaks, these children often go with little to no food. AFAC's Backpack Buddies program strives to help these children stay nourished at home.
Each week, dedicated volunteers deliver weekend meal kits to school social workers so they can discreetly distribute this food to students most in need. Reducing stigma and increasing accessibility to this nutritious food helps put their focus on school and being the best students they can be.
Children and families who benefit from the Backpack Buddies program are able to spend more quality time at the table and less time worrying about where to find their next healthy meal. If you think your child would benefit from a weekend Backpack Buddies kit, contact your Arlington Public School social worker for more information.
The Backpack Buddies program runs year-round. AFAC coordinates with all of the Arlington Public Schools as well as several community centers, aftercare programs, and summer camps to make sure all children in our community have the food they need when the weekend comes.
The food for the Backpack Buddies program is more expensive than other food AFAC purchases for the families in our care because it is prepackaged and prepared. AFAC purchases all the items for the Backpack Buddies kits to ensure quality, freshness, and low cost.